World War II in Europe. From Warsaw to Berlin. Part 4-The Kiev Cauldron.

How the lesson from past led to tragedy. The biggest cauldron.



Kiev in 1941. The tragedy that happened month before, led to another, much bigger tragedy.

Please, first read parts 1,2 and 3!


What was the third main target of the Nazis? Yep, it was Kiev. So, did they occupy that city? Read this article to find out.

Kiev was essential. After the fall of the so-called “Stalin’s Line of Defense ” or “The Line of Stalin”, Germans’ next target was Kiev. The 5th and the 12th Armies-more than 600,000 people- had been already lost in the battles for that city! The Soviet commandment did not want to repeat that tragedy.

The Germans tried to occupy Kiev by an attack from the South. Their main targets were: Goloseevsky Forest, Zhuliany Airport and (of course) Kiev itself. On their way there were a few bunkers (DOTs). Soldiers in those bunkers were fighting until they were dead, after they ran out of ammo and/or outfits.

The Nazis’ attack was powerful — there was almost no resistance! When they were only 1-3 km from Kiev, they already thought that victory is at hand. But then, the Defense Commandment of Kiev sent forward a regiment of paratroopers. Their commander was Alexander Rodimtsev.

Alexander Rodimtsev

His paratroopers were dressed like pilots. So the Germans thought that the Soviets didn’t have enough force if they sent pilots to fight. But the men of Rodimtsev were fighting bravely — they never fell back and were attacking with might and main. They pushed Nazis back for 3-6 kilometers. They managed to hold their positions during a whole day until the core (main) forces arrived. The city was saved. But then something terrible happened.

Remember the 5th and the 12th Armies? These armies had been destroyed in two cauldrons. How did it happen? The two armies were on the brink of being surrounded. But they started to retreat on the last day. But the Nazis attacked those armies from the flanks (the “bounds” of the army(ies)) and encircled them into two cauldrons. The leaders of the South-Western front and of the Soviet government didn’t want to repeat the same mistake. Even when the “4th Tanks’ Group” of Guderian -the German general- attacked from the north and created “a half-cauldron”, most of the Soviet generals refused to retreat.

Everybody, except Zhukov. Zhukov told  Stalin  that Kiev had to be abandoned. Stalin got mad because he didn’t see the necessity to do so. There were no tanks in the South. That meant that the Germans’ army was too weak to start a massive offense from the South. But if the soldiers left Kiev, they could have been be attacked by the Germans from the North AND the South (like the 5th and the 12th Armies). Stalin demoted Zhukov from the Head of the General Staff  to a Commander of the Front (Reserve Front, to be exact). And then near the town of Yelnya Zhukov acheived the first major victory over Hitler in history! And after that successful operation Zhukov told Stalin once again about the need to cede Kiev to Germans! This time Stalin understood him, but still refused to do it. He sent Zhukov to Leningrad, so that he could save the City on Neva.

Meanwhile the situation in Kiev suddenly grew from dangerous to critical! Soviet Intelligence Service did not track the relocation of tanks to the south of Kiev. On September 9, the Germans began another offence. In 10 days, they surrounded the whole South-Western Front — more than 100,000 people! The last organized resistance ended on September 26, 1941. A few days later, survivors reached the main army. There were maximum 10,000-12,000 of people.

The battle of Kiev. Pink-front by September 1. Violet-front by September 30.

After the fall of Kiev, Germans drove thousands of civilians, mostly Jews and Communists, to the suburb named  Babi Yar . They were all  killed there. After that, the Germans started killing people  every Tuesday and Friday. And it was during those days that the war between the USSR and the Nazis turned into the Great Patriotic War. That was the hardest time for the people of Russia, Ukraine, Belarus and other republics of he USSR.

When the Battle for Kiev ended, the Germans turned to the Crimea and Sevastopol. A new  stage of the war began — the Defense of Sevastopol…

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